-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Women who had their first
menstrual cycle at an early age may be at increased risk for heart
disease, a new study suggests.
The onset of menstruation at a younger age is associated with a
higher body-mass index (a measurement of body fat based on height
and weight), larger waist circumference and obesity in adulthood --
all factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular (heart and
blood vessel) disease.
The report is scheduled for publication in the January issue of
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study included more than 1,600 women, aged 40 and older, who
took part in the Framingham Heart Study between 2002 and 2005. The
women were assessed for belly fat and fat under the skin.
The researchers looked at the relationship between these types
of fat and female reproductive factors after adjusting for age,
smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity levels,
hormone replacement therapy and menopausal status.
The timing of the first menstrual cycle (menarche) was
associated with overall levels of fat in the women, but not levels
of fat in specific areas of the body, the investigators found.
"This research suggests that select female reproductive risk factors, specifically onset of menarche, are associated with overall [levels of fat], but not with specific indices of body fat distribution," lead author Dr. Subbulaxmi Trikudanathan, of Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.
"Ultimately, the important question is whether female reproductive risk factors can be used to target lifestyle interventions in high-risk women to prevent the metabolic consequences of obesity and cardiovascular disease," Trikudanathan added.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women in
the United States.
Although the study found a link between early onset of
menstruation and factors related to cardiovascular disease, it did
not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The American College of Cardiology has more about
women and heart disease.
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